I finished reading the open round for this issue. The quality of stories was unbelievable. I realized I made most decisions based on personal taste and Electric Spec's unique, ever-developing voice. Finding well-constructed stories was rarely an problem; I could concentrate more on the story--an excellent position to be in as an editor.
We editors have our own biases, and it's no secret I like dark stories. That doesn't necessarily mean tragedy, or even spine-chilling horror, but I tend to focus more on the characters. I love those grey characters, the ones I like despite who they are and what they stand for, or the baddies who make the right decision. But it's a delicate dance and difficult to manage in short form. For instance, I just read a story last night in which a "negative" secondary character did a noble thing at the end. Surprising and intriguing. I didn't know much about him, but that was all right, because neither did the main character. However, I passed because I realized by the end I didn't know the main character any better than I did the secondary. He obviously symbolized "youthful optimism" which is all well and good, but a character, especially a main character, should be more than a symbol. He survived his ordeal (though not by any real effort of his own), but I found I didn't care because he wasn't a real person to me.
Our production meeting is scheduled for late January, so if you've been held for voting, you should know if your story is in the issue by Feb 1 or so. Good luck, and to those of you who were rejected, please try us again!